Commissioning and training hand in hand

The number of cranes and the amount of scaffolding have clearly decreased during the spring at the bioproduct mill construction site in Äänekoski. The commissioning phase – the testing and test run phase – has started and is progressing at full speed. The list of work in progress is long.

Like the entire project, the commissioning phase has progressed on schedule.

“For example, the automatic distribution centre is being tested using a bale of pulp. We are also testing the dryer, the washers at the pulp mill, the flue gas fans in the recovery boiler, and the chippers and bark screws in wood processing. In addition, the filling of the white liquor tank will soon be completed,” says Pertti Lehmonen, technical director of the bioproduct mill project.

A bale of pulp is being used to test the automatic distribution centre at the bioproduct mill. Highly advanced automation ensures timely and efficient deliveries of a high quality. Photos: Metsä Group

Like the entire project, the commissioning phase has progressed on schedule.

“Tests have been started gradually and systematically as the installation work has been completed in various departments. The pace of testing will increase towards the summer,” says Lehmonen.

The bioproduct mill’s water supply plant is currently being started up and is already able to produce chemically treated water. According to technical manager Pertti Lehmonen and project manager Johanna Harjula, the automation system of the water supply plant has proven to function well from the very beginning.

New working environment

Training has also progressed as planned. The operators of the existing mill are being provided with training in the bioproduct mill in two-week periods.

“During a training period, they get to know the new working environment and the machinery and equipment in the mill. The operators also play an active role in the commissioning of the mill,” says Teemu Leppänen, who is in charge of organising the training related to the bioproduct mill.

Training is also being provided on maintenance, and equipment suppliers have held training sessions for employees. All this is aimed at a safe and successful start-up for the mill.

“Our team includes a large number of experienced pulp production professionals who are learning quickly and will be able to run the equipment once they are familiar with the new environment,” says Leppänen.

Leppänen joined Metsä Fibre ten years ago. He has been working in his current job since the beginning of the year. He is an engineer by training, with a specialisation in paper and pulp technology. Before moving to Äänekoski, Leppänen worked at the Rauma mill until autumn 2015, when he joined a project to introduce the new Mills of the Future operating model at Metsä Fibre.

“However, when I was offered an opportunity to work at the bioproduct mill, I didn’t need to think twice. This a unique career opportunity,” says Leppänen, a father of two from Tampere.

Teemu Leppänen is in charge of organising the training related to the bioproduct mill.

Close cooperation in testing

Leppänen works in the new control room at the bioproduct mill. The control room is the hotspot of the commissioning phase. The radiotelephone connections are busy as Metsä Fibre’s operators and system experts and the equipment suppliers’ representatives test the systems and equipment.

This is an interesting but long process.

“The testing work is challenging, as there are a lot of interfaces between different operators. This is an interesting but long process, leading up to the point where we master everything,” says operator Tero Rantaniva, who transferred from Metsä Fibre’s operational mill to the bioproduct mill a year ago.

Operator Ismo Kainu has been working in the Äänekoski mill area since 1979. He completed his first two-week training period in the bioproduct mill control room at the beginning of April. The new mill requires multiple skills.

“This is an enormous facility, and none of us have previous experience of running the equipment. Luckily, though, we’ve had the opportunity to come here during slow periods at work to study on our own,” he says.

Leppänen is convinced that the training periods will run smoothly despite the busy spring and summer seasons.

“We always do things together, and no one is expected to master everything alone,” he points out.

During the commissioning phase, the employees of Metsä Fibre’s existing mill are given training related to their new jobs. Operators Tero Rantaniva (left) and Ismo Kainu participating in the I/O testing of the clarifier. The tests were run from the control room.


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